In their first game back into the UEFA Champions League, Manchester United have been thrown into the deep end of the pool & will have to undergo a baptism by fire against tournament favourites Paris Saint-Germain. Not only is this United’s biggest game so far, but also their first meeting against PSG since THAT remarkable win in the UCL Round of 16 in 2018.
That comeback win was ultimately what got Ole Gunnar Solskjaer the United job. Fast-forward two years later & he’s now under the pressure of losing it if results go against his way. But PSG won’t care. They’re out for revenge and will look to serve it cold. With the Red Devils still somewhat reeling from the embarrassment to Tottenham, they’ll have to produce something truly special to stop the juggernaut from running them over on Tuesday.
PSG Likely XI
Navas, Dagba, Diallo, Kimpembe, Kurzawa, Gueye, Herrera, Rafinha, Di Maria, Mbappe, Neymar
PSG have as many as 7 (!) injured players that likely won’t be in contention against United. Mauro Icardi, Marco Veratti, Juan Bernat & Thilo Kehrer are the biggest ones, while key midfielder Marquinhos could also miss the game through injury.
Manchester United Likely XI
De Gea, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Tuanzebe, Shaw, Telles, Matic, Pogba, Fernandes, Rashford, Martial
The big blow for United is captain Harry Maguire is expected to miss after picking up a knock on Saturday! Eric Bailly is also a doubt. This means a possible return to a back-3 with new-boy Alex Telles as well as absentee Axel Tuanzebe returning. Mason Greenwood’s a doubt after missing the Newcastle United game.
PSG vs Manchester United Preview
The last time United visited the Parc des Princes, they came out with an incredible 3-1 win to pip PSG out of the Champions League in away goals. That day, fate and lady luck both shined on OGS to grant him his job. But the tides have heavily changed since them.
PSG is a much sturdier, experienced team that proved their class by going all the way into the UCL finals a few months ago. Sure, they might have a couple of bad injuries going against them right now, but the amount of quality the French giants possess is enough to blow away the Red Devils.
For one, the devastating trio of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel di Maria is potent enough to ruin their night. The dynamic trio seems to have formed an intuitive bond, which mixed with their technical ability, can cause havoc for any backline. For a defence as frail as United’s currently, it could be a weapon of mass destruction.
With no Maguire, Victor Lindelof will be appointed the leader of United’s defence. The Iceman is known for dropping his guard and making mistakes on occasions, but can’t afford to do that. Lindelof must remain extremely alert & put in his best performance in years to keep the menacing Mbappe at bay. If he plays, local lad Tuanzebe has the perfect chance to prove his first-team credentials & assert his authority by keeping things tidy.
Similarly, Aaron Wan-Bissaka also needs to prove his worth after the impressive showing against Newcastle. He’s up against the terrorizing Neymar & needs to time his tackles/challenges to perfection to keep the Brazilian wizard quiet. Luke Shaw’s coming up against a former teammate in Di Maria, but his positional sense, closing down must be better to frustrate the Argentine. If he gets his debut, Telles also must keep himself defensively agile – but more important create opportunities in attack with his crossing+set-piece ability to trouble the hosts.
This is the kind of game David de Gea must put on his Superman cape & make clutch saves to keep United in contention of getting anything. One error & it could be lights out for his side. Nemanja Matic will also play a key role in protecting his backline, while United’s other attacking stars must work harder than usual and trackback to help endure the pressure.
One good thing for the Red Devils is they’ll get plenty of opportunities to hit PSG on the counter-attack. The swift breaks is something they’ve seemingly perfected under Solskjaer & need to prove their brilliance on Tuesday. Marcus Rashford & Anthony Martial both are key in carrying the ball forward & flushing away opportunities around the final third. Bruno Fernandes will have to be the jack of all trades again, in having to cover a lot of ground to score goals or find those intricate defence-splitting passes to open up chances.
Paul Pogba returns to his home country and has lots to prove, as he’ll need to show more effort into carving open PSG’s backline & get one over former teammate Ander Herrera. As long as United can win the battles in key areas, defend better as a team & keep PSG’s terrorizing trio quiet, they could salvage something to begin their CL campaign in a bright note.
Despite United’s impressive recent away form (they’ve won their last 9 away games in all competitions), PSG are colossal at home & just too strong right now – even with their injuries. It may be closer than what many think, but I think PSG will manage a 2-1 win.